The role of coworking in a startup community

A few weeks ago Mark Suster, startup founder and venture capitalist based in Los Angeles, wrote about a post about the components of an entrepreneurial community: How to Kick Start Your Community’s Startup Scene. It made the rounds in my social circles in particular for a shoutout to our friends at Dwolla.

I think and write a lot about this topic and was encouraged by Mark’s take. A few of the components he pointed out are particularly apropos as we’re working to establish Gravitate — an entrepreneurial center of gravity — here in the core of downtown Des Moines.

“There is no question in my mind that getting the startup community located within close proximity of each other has enormous benefits. The obvious starting point is the cross-pollination of ideas and talent. Importantly by locating a large number of startups in a single building or region it makes it easier for people passing through town to come to one place and meet with or speak to a large number of startups.

I was blown away by my visit to Chicago’s 1871 building that has set aside 50,000 square feet for tech startups. I wish every city could have an 1871. Frankly, I wish LA had one. But across Santa Monica & Venice we increasingly have smaller but important versions like Cross Campus, Amplify, Mucker Labs, Science and so forth.

Cincinnati has had the accelerator The Brandery for several years, which caters to the great strengths of design and brand management that are dominant in this city. But soon Cincinnati will also have a 38,000 sq ft co-working facility in its historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Awesome.”

— Mark Suster

This component speaks to two of the things we’re hoping to accomplish with Gravitate: high density of people working on startups and in tech as well as being a front door — the first place new transplants or visitors go — to the startup/tech community.

While Gravitate is only an eighth the size of Chicago’s 1871 for now its a good start. The Midland Building, where Gravitate is located, is actually more than 80,000 square feet and already includes offices for two tech companies (Banno/ProfitStars and Torsion Mobile), a coffee shop, an event space for up to 200 people and soon a restaurant. There is also a lot of open space for Gravitate members to grow into as their companies evolve without ever having to leave the building or the community.

Theres a lot of other great stuff in Mark’s post that I’m going to put pull out in future posts here.

For a few other takes on the “components of a startup community”, see Sarah Lacy, Brad Feld, Joshua Baer's Capital Factory in Austin, my recent stuff here and my slightly older stuff over here.